3. Sacrificing Freedom for Security

Jan-13-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: Once the US was a country in which one was innocent till proven guilty, and in which there was the rule of law. Well, we aren’t in that particular state of Kansas any more. Ben Franklin said it first, Those who would sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither.” Sometimes the sacrifices are farcical (the TSA confiscated a cupcake this week, claiming the icing was a gel and could be explosive!) but sometimes (habeus corpus, state-sponsored terrorism in Iran, etc). And the language, as Orwell once noted presciently, is always revealing. If your term for dead innocents is “bugsplat”, are you still fully human?

* He Signed It on the Dotted Line Alexander Cockburn NationofChange

Sacrificial offerings to the Pentagon aren’t news. But this time, snugly ensconced in the NDAA, came ratification by legal statute of the exposure of U.S. citizens to arbitrary arrest without subsequent benefit of counsel and to possible torture and imprisonment sine die. Goodbye, habeas corpus. I wrote about this here before Obama signed the bill, but when a president tears up the Constitution the topic is worth revisiting.

We’re talking about citizens within the borders of the United States, not sitting in a hotel or out driving in some foreign land. In the latter case, as the late Anwar al-Awlaki’s incineration in Yemen bore witness a few months ago, that the well-being or summary demise of a U.S. citizen is contingent upon a secret determination of the president as to whether the aforementioned citizen is waging a war of terror on the United States. If the answer is in the affirmative, the citizen can be killed on the president’s say-so without further ado.

We’re also most emphatically not talking about non-U.S. citizens or possibly even legal residents (though I’d urge green card holders to file for citizenship ASAP). Non-citizens get thrown in the Supermax without a prayer of having a lawyer. Under the terms of the NDAA, a suspect’s seizure by the military is a “requirement” if the suspect is deemed to have been “substantially supporting” al-Qaida, the Taliban or “associated forces.”

* What Civilization Means  Andrew Sullivan – The Daily Beast

Here’s how Rick Santorum responded to these kinds of killings:

On occasion scientists working on the nuclear program in Iran turn up dead. I think that’s a wonderful thing, candidly.

…Here’s the response from the Israeli military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai:

I don’t know who took revenge on the Iranian scientist, but I am definitely not shedding a tear.

Not even for his fatherless child? Or wife? Here’s Greenwald’s account of one of the previous assassinations:

In November, 2010, two separate car bombs exploded within minutes of each other on the same day, one that killed nuclear scientist Majid Shahriar and wounded his wife, and the other which wounded another nuclear scientist, Fereidoun Abbasi, along with his wife. Then, in July of last year, Darioush Rezaei, 35, was shot dead and his wife was wounded by two gunmen firing from motorcycles outside of their daughter’s kindergarten.

I fear sometimes that we have badly lost our way here. When Americans rejoice in the assassination of scientists, they have lost their moral compass. When they cannot shed a tear for a dead man’s wife or child, they are becoming dangerously close to the barbarians they claim to be fighting.

* ‘Bugsplat’: The Civilian Toll Of War   Robert Koehler Baltimore Sun

And, according to a 2003 Washington Post story, it’s …casual terminology among Pentagon operation planners and the like to refer to the collateral damage itself … you know, the dead civilians. CIA drone operators talk about bugsplat. The British organization Reprieve calls its effort to track the number of people killed by U.S. drone strikes — in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen — Project Bugsplat.

It’s a term I’ve only recently come across, but I can’t get it out of my head. The only way I know how to begin thinking about it is to quote that passage from Rupert Ross’ extraordinary book about Native American wisdom, “Returning to the Teachings,” and contemplate the idea of a people who have “no language for insulting other orders of existence.” Such a thought, it seems to me, is worth sitting with for a while, especially as we read or listen to the news and behold the daily unfolding of our casual disrespect for every order of existence, including our own.

Mr. Ross goes on to talk about “the core teaching that all aspects of Creation were essential, none were superior and each must be respected if all are to survive.”What if this is actually true? What if this is the depth at which we need to transform ourselves, not merely personally but at every level of our interaction with the world, including geopolitically?



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